Developing Responsible Citizens, Embracing Diverse Perspectives

The school system’s curriculum, written and updated annually by Howard County teachers, supports the growth of well-informed citizens by weaving diverse perspectives into lesson resources. Incorporating multiple viewpoints into the curriculum reflects the growing diversity of our student body, while developing life skills to continuously question.

The HCPSS curriculum not only meets national and state standards, but balances instructional consistency with teacher autonomy while incorporating feedback from the community and schools. The Social Studies curriculum in particular offers multitudes of resources, so teachers have on hand multiple perspectives to carry out their lessons. And while inclusion has long been a primary value of the school system, we strive to represent ever-more diverse voices in the classroom each year as sought after by local groups and students alike.

“It’s vital that we understand multiple perspectives in order to get a more accurate picture of a given topic, period or event,” said HCPSS Elementary Social Studies Coordinator Kim Eggborn. “At the elementary age, having students recognize different perspectives helps them understand that there might not be just one right answer or one correct view.”

Elementary Social Studies incorporates diversity into the curriculum starting in prekindergarten, when students discuss their own cultural experiences. As students progress through the elementary grades, they consider increasingly complex concepts as they learn about their fellow classmates’ cultures, then geographical viewpoints, early American history and finally politics.

Veterans Elementary School 4th grade teacher Kristie Cartwright, for example, decided on a Jackie Robinson lesson to explore problem solving, discuss goal setting and teach new vocabulary. She said by discussing diverse experiences, “the students are more accepting of others. They participate more because they’re eager to express themselves and talk about their background.”

At the secondary level, diverse examples have been especially added through Social Studies core courses’ curriculum resources. Modern World History, for example, has increasingly incorporated lessons from around the world, instead of a purely Eurocentric focus. Mount Hebron High School Social Studies teacher John McCoy challenges his students to discover alternative perspectives on topics such as imperialism, looking at Gandhi’s perspective living under British India or the Togolese under German rule.

Atholton High School summer graduate Fanny Yayi-Bondje said McCoy’s summer Modern World History class helped prepare her for college and hopefully one day to travel the world and join the Peace Corps. Yayi-Bondje said, “It’s open in this class, so we can talk and share our stories. I was born in Cameroon, so I have my different perspectives. It helps to learn about other cultures.”

HCPSS Secondary Social Studies Coordinator Mark Stout said, “Students have to see themselves in their experience in school. Furthermore, a major role of education is to develop citizens who enter society understanding their role. One of the responsibilities is to understand the people you live with.”

Learn more about how diversity is woven into the curriculum at http://hcpssne.ws/2duUYYg.

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